Reach Out. Love. Listen.
This is National Suicide Prevention Week and within my pastoral ministry I know too many people who have tried to kill themselves.
My own father attempted it when I was young. I found the suicide note. I will never forget it. Later I learned that both of my parents suffered from the mental illness of depression, among other things.
I went to college and found out that depression doesn't show up at everyone’s dinner table. But then one day it showed up at mine.
I am a senior pastor, goofy dad, productive citizen, and I, too, now have the disease of depression. Depression knocks rarely these days, but usually invites its cousin anxiety to join us.
I don't need to be treated with kid gloves because of my depression, nor do I need a decision I make – that perhaps someone disagrees with – written off as "well he does suffer from depression."
I don’t need my particular mental illness to be ignored, excused, or fixed.
What I do need is what my parents needed, and what most people with depression need.
1. A good therapist
2. Appropriate medication
3. An interior spiritual life
4. A regular exercise program
5. Ways to get out of myself to help other people
6. A community of people who love me
This means the larger religious community can help. You can use any one of the points I describe above to help somebody. And if none of these work, please do what you do best. Reach out. Love. Listen. Talk. Don't leave.
I know too many people who have tried to kill themselves. The church must do everything it can to stop it.
National Suicide Prevention Week is Monday, September 7th through Sunday, September 13th surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th.
To learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and mental health awareness, click here.